Hall of Shame #30: Richard Dryden

Our 30th entry into the Swindon Town Hall of Shame is a loanee from Southampton – Richard Dryden, who Ciaran Boast inducts into our STFC pantheon of crap…

Richard Dryden was born in Stroud on 14th June 1969 so he’s a fairly local lad. Before signing for Swindon Town on loan, the signs were there of a career which was spiralling down – and fast.

Defender Dryden had joined Southampton for £150,000 in 1996 via Bristol Rovers (playing under Terry Cooper – father of Town boss Mark), Exeter City, Notts County, Birmingham City and Bristol City. After initially making 35 appearances that season, a succession of managers at the Dell ensured he would sit waiting for the first team. He spent most of the 1998/99 season in the Southampton reserves and made only four first team appearances for the club during that season.

Following a three game loan spell with Stoke City, Dryden returned to the Dell and made one final appearance at Newcastle United on the 16th January 2000. Unfortunately for Dryden, it wasn’t the most inspiring final appearance for the Saints. Dryden’s outing was disastrous and painful to watch as he and his teammates were beaten 5-0. He quickly returned to Stoke for another short spell before being sent out on loan to lowly Northampton Town. A spell at Swindon was next thanks to manager ‘Andy King’ who had replaced the departing Colin Todd and is fondly remembered for puffing on cigars and being on gardening leave more than Alan Titchmarsh.

Richard Dryden signed for Town on loan on 24th November 2000. Dryden’s loan spell got off to a calamitous start, he was part of a backline – featuring Sol Davis, Alan Willis, Alan Reeves and Mark Robinson – who struggled to hold their own consistently which suggests the reasoning behind him being signed for the club – to ultimately shore up the defence.

Dryden was credited with an own-goal in his Town debut at the County Ground on 25th November 2000 versus Stoke City after just 8 minutes; and if my memory serves me right, he almost fell over his own feet and put the ball into his own net. A moment of sheer frustration from the home support who could clearly see that ‘Dryden’ looked immobile – too wooden and perhaps unfit. His own-goal certainly didn’t help in what was to become a 3-0 home loss – leaving Town firmly in the Division Two relegation zone.

It seemed as though there would be light at the end of the tunnel for Dryden though after two consecutive victories followed against Northampton Town and Rotherham United. It wasn’t to be, and Dryden’s final five appearances for the club all ended in defeat versus Bury, Brentford, Walsall, Coventry City and Port Vale. His defensive contribution was two wins, six defeats, one clean sheet and 12 goals conceded.

As I mentioned that defeat to Coventry City, let’s watch Dryden’s (he’s number 25) great effort after only 4 minutes of the game to track back and help out his teammates…

This loan move to Town was the beginning of the end for the former Southampton defender as he signed for Luton Town on a permanent contract on the 2nd February 2001. He only managed 23 appearances before being shipped out to Scarborough, Worksop Town, Tamworth and Shepshed Dynamo.

It gets more interesting though for Dryden who was appointed assistant manager of Tamworth when current Swindon Town Boss Mark Cooper took charge of the club in April 2004. He left the club at the same time as Cooper. He later joined Cooper again at Darlington – they were then both dismissed on the 14th October 2011. He is now the youth team coach at York City – I wonder if he will soon end up back at our club seeing the Cooper family links?

Dryden was waiting to hear if he would be signed permanently by Swindon Town in January 2001, thankfully it wasn’t the case as Swindon snapped up a young defender from Burnley by the name of Matt Heywood. Thanks Richard, but no-thanks.

As for Town in 2000/2001, the season was a disaster. After being relegated from the second tier the year before Town only avoided relegation courtesy of a last-minute wonder goal from Danny Invincibile in a must-win game at home to Peterborough. Town went into the last week of the season just four points clear of relegation, but having played two games more than Bristol Rovers. Amazingly, Rovers throw it away – losing their two games in hand at home to Port Vale and Wycombe – and after a last day hammering at Stoke City, Swindon avoid a successive relegation by a single point.

A Fun Fact: Dryden was nicknamed ‘trigger’ by his Saints teammates after the dim-witted Only Fools and Horses character. He once reported his car stolen, before realising he had driven it to a phone box and left it there. Thank the lord for mobile phones these days…

Read More Tales from the STFC Hall of Shame…

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